The Housing Board (HDB) has rejected the requests of unhappy flat buyers for refunds of their new flats in Sengkang, made last month when they discovered that a temple with a commercial columbarium would be built near their estate. The columbarium project will no longer go ahead as planned.

In a statement by HDB, it received 95 requests as at Feb 9 from future residents of three Build-To-Order (BTO) projects along Fernvale Link – Fernvale Lea, Fernvale Rivergrove and Fernvale Riverbow – asking to cancel their booking but with a refund.

These 95 requests make up 2.4 per cent out of the total of 4,000 units among the three BTO projects.

HDB also promised that the Ministry of National Development and its agencies would ensure that the site is restored to the original plan of a Chinese temple.

Whether it will have a columbarium will depend on the temple’s trustees, and is subject to the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s guidelines and approval.

HDB sent its official letters or e-mail to buyers informing them of their unsuccessful request on Feb 16. The flat buyers were also given up to this Friday to notify HDB if they wished to proceed with the cancellation of their flat application.

If they want to cancel their application, they will be subject to the standard process of cancellation, wherein they forfeit the option fee they paid if they cancel before signing the Agreement for Lease. If they cancel after signing the agreement, they will forfeit 5 per cent of the flat’s purchase price.

The appeals for refund were made after buyers discovered that a temple complex with a commercial columbarium, run by Australian-listed company Life Corporation through its subsidiary Eternal Pure Land, would be built near their estate.

Is this a sign of HDB’s refusal to admit negligence over this boo boo? Why are regular Singaporeans paying for the mistake made by HDB and URA? Is this a fair resolution to the issue?

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